General Assembly Vote Tracker

HB299 – Republicans try to make Death more Palatable

[Update – the details of the new Republican State Killing Bill of 2020 are below, HB299].

Republican legislators are apparently going to introduce a bill to reinstate the death penalty, which is odd since they have already introduced a bill to reinstate the death penalty. Last year. That bill is still pending in committee. It’s House 165, the Extreme Crimes Protection Act, which is a naming travesty since it implies that Republicans want to protect Extreme Crimes. Which, given the coming vote in the Senate on protecting the corrupt criminal Trump, we know that to be true. But I digress.

Regardless, that bill is there, and Republicans seem to have fallen out of love with it. I get it. It is a little complicated because it attempts to revise Delaware’s death penalty statute, which is still on the books but has been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. and Delaware Supreme Courts. In accordance with both court’s rulings, HB165 would allow the death penalty only when a jury a jury unanimously agrees there is at least one eligible aggravating circumstance that outweighs any mitigating factors. There would be 22 potential aggravating circumstances.

I guess that was too much for Republicans, so the new bill will only have 4 possible aggravating circumstances: 1) mass murder (the killing of at least three people in a public place), 2) a prior murder conviction involving the defendant, 3) the killing being motivated by a hate crime and 4) the offense being “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman.” The bill would not define mitigating circumstances so as to give the defense more freedom to make a case for the accused’s innocence.

The reintroduction of the bill and simplifying it was probably the better political move for the Republicans as it reintroduces the issue in an election year and the bill probably may be more palatable to some moderate Democrats, in that they could say that they only approve of the death penalty in the most violent or heinous offenders. Indeed, the House, even when controlled by Democrats, passed a Death Penalty Restoration bill in 2017, but it died in the Senate without getting a vote. The tally was 24-16. Here is the breakdown of that vote:

YES (for death penalty) – Briggs King, Carson, Collins, D.Short, Dukes, Gray, Hensley, Hudson, Jaques, Kenton, Longhurst, M.Smith, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Osienski, Outten, Paradee, Postles, Q.Johnson, Schwartzkopf, Smyk, Spiegelman, Wilson, Yearick

NO (against the death penalty) – B.Short, Baumbach, Bennett, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Heffernan, J.Johnson, K.Williams, Keeley, Kowalko, Lynn, Matthews, Miro, Potter, Viola

ABSENT – Ramone

A lot has changed with the General Assembly membership since that vote, though. Melanie Smith is gone, replaced by Kendra Johnson, who is possibly a no vote. The same is true for Mike Mulrooney, who has been replaced by Melissa Minor Brown. So that brings us down to 22 votes. We need two more votes to defeat this bill. Joe Miro’s no vote got replaced by Michael Smith, who might be a yes vote, unfortunately. So now we need three more votes.

Krista Griffith replaced Deborah Hudson, so that could be a no vote and we are back down to 22 votes. Paradee got promoted to the Senate, so perhaps Bill Bush, who replaced Paradee, could be a no, but don’t bank on it.

So if this bill gets a vote in the House, it will likely pass, 22-19. In the Senate, you can assume that Paradee and Ennis are yes votes. So unless this bill could pass the Senate 11-10 if all other Democrats vote no and Republicans vote yes.

WHERE IS HB 165? – Currently in the House Judiciary Committee since 5/16/19


REPUBLICAN SPONSORS – Smyk, Lawson, Pettyjohn, Wilson, Dukes, Morris, D.Short, Spiegelman, Vanderwende

  • ABSENT —

WHERE IS HB 299? House Judiciary 3/12/20


REPUBLICAN SPONSORS – D.Short, Wilson, Smyk, Pettyjohn, Dukes, Gray, Morris, Spiegelman, Vanderwende, Yearick

  • ABSENT —

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

18 comments on “HB299 – Republicans try to make Death more Palatable

  1. Bush is a yes, I would say (No, I don’t that for that certain, but I know enough about him to be confident he will support it).

  2. cassandram

    What does this bill do to make death penalty decisions infallible?

    What does this bill do to correct the *current* and long-standing issues at Delaware’s prisons?

    Does this bill provide the funding to humanely reconstitute a “Death Row”?

  3. I am not in favor of a death penalty. What puzzles me is the dems obsession with abortion including and especially post birth abortion as advocated by Virginia governor Northam.

    • “Situations in which a woman seeks an abortion when she is ready to give birth are incredibly uncommon, Nash said. Ninety-two percent of all abortions in America happen in the first trimester, according to Planned Parenthood. Only 1.4 percent of abortions happen at 21 weeks’ gestation or beyond, according to the organization — the third trimester begins at around 28 weeks.”

      Third-trimester abortions are exceedingly rare. Sort of like intelligent commentary from a conservative.

      • Ironically, you made my point. Have another cup of coffee and get back to me on this.

        • cassandram

          If Alby made your point, then you were making NO point. Which is when I tell you there is no such thing as a “post birth abortion”. And since it does not exist, Gov. Northam could not have advocated for it.

    • You clearly fail to understand. The only cases involved concern severely deformed infants. For people who don’t want to pay for others’ health care, it’s curious that you demand they undergo procedures to protect your delicate morality.

      People who stand on some religious “principle” here while ignoring the suffering of the parents in these situations are truly lost. Putting principle over actual suffering is immoral.

      • No religious principle here. You imagined that (alzheimer’s?). Re-read the law. It reduces the needed doctors involved in the decision from 3 to 1 and no where does it say it has to be for “deformed” infants. Wide open to interpretation by physicians and parents. Either way, we are discussing a human being born alive (possibly after a botched abortion…hello Kermit Gosnell), made comfortable and has his or her (or gender neutral) fate decided by others. What if the baby is a female? She has no “right to choose”. I thought that was what it was all about. And since when does a Leftist care about the cost of health care?

  4. Pretty sure that Cloutier would be a no on the death penalty. I’ve also heard that Sen. Lopez is opposed to capital punishment as well, though I received that info second hand.

    If anybody wants to help stop the death penalty, Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty has been taking the lead, and they could use all the help they can get. I believe this is their website:

  5. Kristin Froehlich

    The new bill, the Egregious Crimes Accountability Act, does nothing to make the death penalty less racially biased, more effective in achieving public safety, or less wasteful of taxpayer dollars. For more reasons to oppose the new bill, go to Then call or write your legislators.

  6. RE Vanella

    Anyone who supports the death penalty in any form should be ridiculed and shunned in public. Treated as a vile beast. That’s it. That’s the comment.

    • Go ahead and shun me then. I believe people on death row who commit another murder should not get a freebie. Before you shun me, please explain why such a murderer should go without further punishment.

      • RE Vanella

        Consider yourself shunned. You simplifies example of some narrow set of circumstances is wired. The idea of the state not murdering someone in cold blood being a “freebie” is bizarre. Do better.

        • Even though I agree with you, you have to also “do better”. Your comment is nonsensical and frankly embarrassing. Take a few English, logic and grammar classes.

          • Fella, I’m trying to be nice, but it’s really obvious you don’t so much have anything to say as a need to be noticed. Problems at home?

        • “Wired”? What’s that mean? And I am not in favor of murdering murderers in cold blood. I think every victim should get a chance to lecture him while he’s on the gurney.

          As usual, you have avoided answering the question. What is the appropriate punishment?

          Yes, this is just a mental exercise. And it’s one that reveals simplistic thinking is not confined to one side of this issue. So do better. Think instead of feel.

  7. The Death Penalty is societal revenge, nothing is accomplished by it and nobody really believes it acts as a deterrent. Life without possibility of release or parole is a far longer and more effective punishment.

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